How To Create Your Own Book of Shadows?

How To Create your own Book of Shadows?

Did you think you can create your own Book of Shadows? In this article, we will discuss The Book of Shadows – what is it and how do you keep one?

As a novice witch, I found the Book of Shadows terribly interesting. It radiated mystery, just like everything else in witchcraft. But it was precise because the Book of Shadows was the book in which secrets were recorded – just like in a diary – it made me curious. What would it contain?

What is a Book of Shadows?

It is a book that collects all the magical information you want to remember. Each book is unique because each witch keeps and compiles his or her own book. What is important to one may not be important to the other and, therefore, may not be included in the personal book.

How big or small a Book of Shadows is does not matter. You determine the format, the number of chapters and pages you determine, it can be a physical book, a digital file. A Book of Shadows is personal and is therefore also made according to the wishes of the one who makes it. 

How To Create your own Book of Shadows?

Whatever it says and whatever the book looks like, it’s special. It is the book of knowledge for yourself and contains all the information you consider important to remember. That is why it is important that you make a book that appeals to you. Otherwise, you will not use it.

Calligraphy and dedication

When our high priest commissioned us to create a Book of Shadows myself, I bought a booklet from Patricia Telesco about Shadows’ Book and what you can put in it and got to work. I decided to make my book nice and big, made a nice cover from wood, and came up with a way to make it so that sheets could also be added to it. 

I spent hours decorating the pages and tabs, making lists of information that should be included, and writing down information nicely for my book. 

How To Create your own Book of Shadows?

When my vacation was over, and I started working, things got going. My beautiful book, which I had started with so much love and dedication, was dusted on the book stand and later even in a tidy box.

It’s a matter of the content.

Now that I myself, as the high priestess of my coven, quite recently have given the assignment to keep a magical diary, I have started to study the issue of ‘Book of Shadows’ again. My book has now – together with my magical diary, dusted off and all – again got a place of honor on the bookstand, and I have once again picked up the book by Patricia Telesco, and the ‘Grimoire for the Green Witch’ by Ann Moira, because what can you actually write in your Book of Shadows? Now that I will soon have to answer this question for my coven witches, I first went into it myself.

Gardner’s Shadow Book

The Book of Shadows was created by Gerald Gardner, the founder of Wicca. Of course, magicians and witches before him also kept books about their findings, but Gerald Gardner has given it the name “Book of Shadows.” His high priestess Doreen Valiënte later cast the Book of Shadows in a coherent form. 

The book is not so much intended to keep track of your findings. You do that in your magical diary, the Book of Shadows is mainly intended to keep track of information and rituals that you want to perform more often. At least, that’s been Gardner’s plan.

A grimoire

Did you think you can create your own Book of Shadows? In this article we will discuss The Book of Shadows - what is it and how do you keep one?

Another name for a Book of Shadows is a grimoire. This is the word I like to use because it is a lot shorter but also because it is an older name for a book in which all kinds of magical notes have been made. 

Ancient grimoires have been found from Egyptian times, such as the Egyptian book of the dead. In the 19th century, it was very trendy among occultists to keep a grimoire, in which notably herbal knowledge was noted, along with all kinds of incantation formulas, spells, ingredients, rituals, and divination techniques. It was a melting pot of all kinds of magical information, which is actually how I see a witch’s personal book.

Make your own book

Many non-Wicca witches have given it a different spin and do note their own experiences in their Book of Shadows. Some by adding their magical diary as a separate chapter, others by simply adding their own finding and opinion to each topic. This is the more natural way of keeping your Book of Shadows. It is the way of nature witches, herb witches, and hedge riders. That does appeal to me since, in my view, the Book of Shadows is intended as a book in which your witch path and findings are noted, so that you can find everything quickly if you want to know something. It is not called the Book of Experiences for anything.

Choose your style

Because it is a personal book, you decide whether and how you keep a Book of Shadows / Grimore. So I myself have a fairly large book with A4 sheets. However, it is not a book that you can easily take with you to open up the structure of a ritual as a reminder during an outdoor ritual, for example. In that case, it is more convenient to take a smaller book that simply fits in your bag. 

You can buy a dummy (a bound blank book), a binder to which you can add pages, again and again, make your own booklet for each chapter, etc. Take a look at what works well for you, and if you notice that you do things differently want, that’s fine too!

Handwritten vs. digital

In my experience, everything you write by hand, you think much more than when you type something. But we live in the 21st century, and the fact is that people write less and less by hand and type more and more. Again: see what works for you! If you want to write it by hand, that’s fine. If you prefer to type it, that’s fine too. Your book is the main thing because it contains what you think is important to remember.

Besides the texts, you also have the illustrations. Illustrating is fun, beautiful, and special if you can do it yourself, but not everyone is born for it. If you write the texts by hand, you can, for example, copy and paste the illustrations. If you decide to write your book on the computer because you have reasonably illegible handwriting, at least try to make the illustrations yourself, so that your own energy can be put into the pages in this way.

What do you put in it? From experience to ritual

The big question is always: what do you put into it?

The short answer is everything that you yourself consider important for performing your witchcraft. But also everything that will support your witchcraft, everything you want to remember, everything you have been through, everything that went well, and you want to use again.

Think of the Book of Shadows as your own personal book. So you can also know what you put in it yourself:

  • Own experiences, 
  • Your take on witchcraft 
  • Something about the current that you follow, how you view Magic, what your idea is about witchcraft, really your personal thoughts,
  • Texts about the gods/goddesses you work with (if you do), 
  • Texts about rituals you have performed
  • General descriptions of rituals, 
  • Proverbs and their effect, 
  • Ways of protection magic and how to act when Magic goes wrong,
  • Texts about the annual celebrations,
  • Meditations and visualizations, 
  • Herbal magic recipes, 
  • Tables with correspondences and symbols that can be useful for composing rituals, 
  • Descriptions of the magical items you have and how to use them. A kind of inventory of everything,
  • Divination systems you work with, 
  • The steps on your witch path and what else you want to learn,
  • Types of Magic you perform
  • The sources from which you gathered all the information,

But if you really work with your magic book, this list will be continuously updated, and that’s good! As long as you learn, your Book of Shadows / Grimoire will also keep moving.

A Magic Book is an indispensable part of the magical equipment for any priestess, magician, vitki, or völva.

Your Magic Book is the log of your experiences and exploration in the inner world. You keep track of your spells, rituals, and celebrations, and things you want to try again and that you learn from others. It is sometimes referred to as the Book of Shadows because it deals with rather “elusive” experiences in the shadow world of consciousness.

You can, of course, buy a beautiful blank book to keep track of your magical quest. But you can also make your own Magic Book. The advantage is that you process your own energy in it so that it is completely to your liking and strengthens your work.

You also have more influence on the appearance, the paper types, and colors.

Making a Magic Book is not difficult. This blog shows step by step how you can put it together yourself. The only step that is still missing is dedication or consecration.

Create your own Book of Shadows

1 Choose paper

Start with the type of paper you want to use. You can choose different qualities, multiple colors (for different types of planet magic, for example), depending on your wishes.

The paper sheets are 2x the size of your final Magic Book because you fold them in half.

In this booklet, I have collected several interesting papers: watercolor paper, music paper, wrapping paper, lined paper, old Michelin maps of France, and semi-transparent paper. Of course, there are many more possibilities.

I made this little magic book from empty window envelopes! It is a report of a magical walk, a ‘Medicine Walk’ along the Kromme Rijn, and it contains all kinds of exciting things behind the windows, such as the dragonfly wings that I found during the walk.

Images and symbols have stronger Magic than text. In this example, you can see that in which the Magic Book is written and pasted, drawn, colored. You can also paste your ‘accidental’ finds in it.

Watch with fresh eyes.

The nature priestess discovers magical finds in nature. But the city priestess finds her special, meaningful images in a magazine or in unexpected places: the napkin of the lunch, at a stall in the market.

It helps to look with fresh eyes. Parchment and goose feathers are atmospheric and romantic, but they quickly make Magic a thing of the past, unattainable long ago. With that, Magic becomes something very remote from us. And that’s a shame because Magic is everywhere. Also in the city, in the café, on the bike, and on the radio. And like here… on the internet.

2 Prepare paper

You can treat printed paper such as music paper and old maps with gesso so that you can write on it. If you don’t have gesso, you can go a long way with a leftover latex wall paint.

If you want to draw, paint or make a collage, you can also pre-process the pages with other colors or use colored paper.

Fold and sew

If the pages are to your liking, make signatures of them: fold four sheets in half and attach them to the fold. You can sew them on by hand or (for the urban priestess) nice and fast with the sewing machine. Use a large stitch to keep the paper intact.

You can also staple the sections. Tip: Use copper staples. Magical creatures don’t like iron. Why that is the case is a completely different story.

4 Collecting sections

If you have more than one section, you sew them all together on the back, on a band, so that they are firmly attached. Here, too, the sewing machine proves its worth.

Of course, this can also be done by hand, with a sturdy needle and thread. If you are a purist, nothing stands in the way of spinning the thread yourself (from nettles perhaps, or from flax) and weaving the ribbons yourself.

5 Make a cover

Cover = upcycled leather from the worn sofa

You can make a simple and very effective cover from a piece of leather or suede, preferably from recycling.

You get old pieces of leather from old clothing or furniture; from the giveaway store. The rest can be used for decorations such as leather cords and fringes.

There are plenty of other options: a cover of sturdy fabric, of cardboard with fabric glued around it, or a piece of prepared deerskin, shiny patent leather, artificial leather, whatever suits you.

Cut the leather or cardstock to size and glue the outer pages with the tape against the cover’s front and back, using regular craft glue. Leave the spine (where the sections are sewn together) free. Then your book will open nicer.

6 Make closure

Your Magic Book is a personal document. It does not have to contain world secrets, but still, a closure has something. It’s a message to the subconscious: safe, private. When you open a Magic Book, you step into a special world.

For this book, I cut a leather cord around which I glued fringe. A ‘buttonhole’ cut into the leather finishes it off.

7 Your magical work can begin!

Yes, it was all about that. Journaling, keeping a log of your magical experiences. Collecting spells, describing rituals, recording symbolism of major themes, or small meaningful events.

You can beautifully display all those things in your Magic Book. Do not limit yourself to writing: especially by means of an Art Journal: drawing, cutting, pasting, coloring you get to the feeling layer, where the Magic happens.

For the die-hard writers among us: get inspired by pictures! Stick them on or just doodle on it. The image tells more than words.

If you like it, please share an image of your Magic Book in the Facebook group of the Temple.

Do you think your magical development is important?

Then read more about life in the Temple in In Persephone’s arms.

It is a book that collects all the magical information you want to remember. Each book is unique because each witch keeps and compiles his or her own book. What is important to one may not be important to the other and, therefore, may not be included in the personal book.

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